USA Today: Frank Cooney ranks and profiles the best offensive tackles & OGs, etc

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by cowboyjoe, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. cowboyjoe

    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Peak performers: Offensive linemen likely to be premium again in draft
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    By Frank Cooney, Special to USA TODAY
    Here is the good news for NFL quarterbacks: This year's class of offensive linemen looked great in games and excellent at the scouting combine and should prove prominent in the early rounds of next month's NFL draft.
    As many as 14 offensive linemen are rated as first- or second-round picks, according to That includes six tackles in the first round and three among the top 10 overall. The best of these big boys figures to be Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung, who could be among the first five players taken.

    MORE O-TACKLES: Is the next great QB protector in this class?

    The entire group is one of the most athletic ever. Three (all 300-plus pounds) ran faster than five seconds in the 40-yard dash, led by 314-pound Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell (4.75). As a group, the 46 players averaged 5.24 seconds in the 40 and 27 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, both combine records.

    A closer look at this year's top offensive line prospects, listed with their school, height, weight and projected round of selection (*denotes underclassman):


    1. Russell Okung

    Oklahoma State, 6-5, 307, 1: The all-Big 12 offensive lineman of the year and one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation's top interior lineman, Okung was a key part of the Oklahoma State offense for four years. In 2008, scouts noted his ability to neutralize Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, the Big 12 defensive player of the year and a Pro Bowler as a rookie for the Washington Redskins in 2009. Okung uses great footwork and athleticism that melds well as a pass blocker; he allowed one sack and two pressures on 336 pass plays. But he also helped the Cowboys capture their fourth consecutive conference rushing title (187.8 yards a game) as well as finish sixth in the nation in fewest sacks allowed (0.92 a game).

    2. *Bryan Bulaga

    Iowa, 6-6, 314, 1: A competitive, smart, hardworking team leader, Bulaga was the 2009 Big Ten offensive lineman of the year despite missing three games with a thyroid problem. Bulaga characterized it as a short-term issue, and most teams seem satisfied by medical reports that validate that. However, the malady helped spur Bulaga to forgo his final college year. "The illness I was faced with at the beginning of the 2009 season made me realize how important football is in my life and how quickly it can be taken away," he said. Bulaga uses equal amounts of finesse and force and has the footwork and agility to be an excellent NFL pass blocker, though he also played guard at Iowa and might see time there in the pros.

    3. Trent Williams

    Oklahoma, 6-5, 315, 1: A fluid and relentless athlete, Williams is especially impressive handling quick defensive ends because he has the footwork and body balance to stay with them. He validated that with impressive agility and position drills at the combine. While Williams appears to have enough strength to stop bull rushers, he is not always successful because he struggles to maintain a leverage position when attacked head on. The lone returning Sooners starter on the front line in 2009, he moved from right to left tackle and displayed an ability to recognize and react to various blitzes. According to coaching staff stats, Williams registered 369 knockdowns and 36 blocks that resulted in touchdowns in his final two seasons.

    4. *Anthony Davis

    Rutgers, 6-5, 323, 1: NFL scouts wonder if Davis, who has lost 40 pounds since his freshman season, is willing to do the work to maximize his tremendous raw athleticism. This huge man has the ability to be as good as he wants to be. He has an explosive first step, impressive strength that should be expected of such a large man and nimble footwork that is better than should be expected. He was suspended for one game in 2008 for violating team rules, benched for a quarter in 2009 for missing a team meeting and demoted to second team last year after reporting overweight. When he did play, Davis allowed 6½ sacks and eight pressures on 699 pass plays, according to the coaching staff.

    5. Charles Brown

    Southern California, 6-6, 303, 1-2: Brown is a former tight end who made the transition to offensive tackle in 2005, a switch made by many successful NFL linemen. Brown first impressed scouts by protecting the blind side of former Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez. He has displayed ample athletic ability to be considered a left tackle prospect in the NFL. However, Brown is still learning the tricks of the trade and will need to fill out his frame to handle stronger defensive ends in the pros. He won the Pacific-10 Morris Trophy for offensive linemen, which is a considerable honor because it is determined by votes from defensive linemen in the conference.

    6. *Bruce Campbell

    Maryland, 6-7, 314, 1-2: Campbell was a workout wonder at the scouting combine, adding fuel to his rising stock up draft boards based on promise rather than production. His size and natural athletic ability are obvious, as reflected by his fastest clocking of 4.75 seconds in the 40-yard dash and a 32-inch vertical leap at the combine. But he could have used more experience. Campbell became a starter for the last seven games of his sophomore year. He missed three games last season with a sprained left medial collateral ligament and turf toe. His pass-blocking technique is to attack rushers, a tactic that could backfire against experienced and opportunistic NFL defensive ends.

    7. Rodger Saffold

    Indiana, 6-5, 316, 2: Despite being a solid starter at left tackle since his freshman year, Saffold didn't get a lot of attention from scouts until he became a surprise standout during East-West Shrine Game workouts. He was impressive against active, spinning pass rushers and showed great strength as a drive blocker. He continued to impress NFL teams with a great workout at the combine and followed up by showing excellent agility in his pro day drills. Before that, it seems the most attention he received was unwanted — seven penalties in his senior season. He was bothered by back and knee injuries in 2008, missing two games. But according to coaching statistics, Saffold allowed three sacks and one pressure in his final 440 college pass plays.

    8. Vladimir Ducasse

    Massachusetts, 6-5, 332, 2: In three years at UMass, Ducasse was a standout blocker for both the pass and the run. That is particularly amazing considering he knew little about football when, at 14, he was sent by his parents to the USA to get away from rough street life in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He has a rare combination of size and skills, but there is no consensus on where his talent might be best used in pro football. At the Senior Bowl, scouts delighted in watching him line up at all of the offensive line positions and then take shots on the defensive side. Ducasse's natural strength and athletic ability give him tremendous upside.

    9. Jared Veldheer

    Hillsdale (Mich.), 6-8, 312, 2-3: Tall and talented, Veldheer demanded attention at the combine with remarkable workouts that validated his extraordinary play throughout college, where he was the top vote-getter in his region for the Gene Upshaw Award as the top small-college offensive lineman last year. At the combine, this giant had a 32½-inch vertical jump, 32 reps with 225 pounds in the bench press and a best 40-yard time of 5.06 seconds. Veldheer will be the first Hillsdale offensive lineman to be drafted since Howard Mudd (1964), who played for a few all-star years before a bad knee forced him into coaching, where he was the longest-tenured assistant coach (36 years) in the NFL until he retired last month as the offensive line coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

    10. John Jerry

    Mississippi, 6-6, 328, 2-3: Jerry began his college career at guard, which is where some scouts feel he might settle in as a pro. He is the brother of Atlanta Falcons 2009 first-round pick Peria Jerry, a defensive tackle. John earned second-team all-Southeastern Conference accolades in 2008 and first-team honors last season. He started 46 games, including 12 at right guard as a freshman, nine at right guard in 2007, 13 at right tackle as a junior and eight at right tackle before shifting to right guard for the last four contests as a senior. He blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in the 2006, 2007 and 2009 seasons. In the last two years, he allowed six sacks and eight quarterback pressures.

    11. Jason Fox

    Miami (Fla.), 6-7, 303, 3: It might be hard to imagine a Hurricanes player with 47 starts as a sleeper. But in a class full of outstanding offensive linemen, Fox might get that tag after missing the final two games of a solid college career. First, he missed a game in November against South Florida with what was called an irregular heartbeat, and he had surgery on his left knee in December and was unable to play in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29 or work out at the combine in February. He is expected to perform for scouts at Miami's pro day March 26. He ended his days at Miami on the sideline after being previously known as an ironman for his ability to stay on the field despite injuries, including a severely sprained ankle and a dislocated elbow.


    1. Mike Iupati

    Idaho, 6-5, 331, 1: Iupati was born in American Samoa and moved to the USA at 14. Idaho grabbed him when other schools became concerned that he would have challenges academically because he was still learning the English language. In 2009, Iupati became the second non-Bowl Championship Series school player to be named a finalist for the Outland Trophy since the award's inception in 1946. He was the first Vandal to win All-America honors since Jerry Kramer, who was honorable mention in 1957. Iupati is a massive, powerful, athletic player who can dominate defenders and is just beginning to grasp the game. Although Iupati played guard in all 34 of his college games, NFL scouts are curious how much of an impact he might have as a defensive lineman or what type of quarterback security he might provide as a left tackle.

    2. Jon Asamoah

    Illinois, 6-4, 305, 2: A three-year starter at right guard, Asamoah has the size, strength and mobility to project as a versatile guard who can play either side and pull when needed. According to the Illini's coaching stats, as a starter he had 267 knockdowns, otherwise known as pancakes. In the last two seasons, he allowed four sacks and four pressures. Coaches and teammates love him for his nastiness on the field and his upbeat personality in the locker room. He wasn't bad in class either, earning Academic All-America honors.

    3. Mike Johnson

    6-5, 312, Alabama, 3: Johnson was the unquestioned leader of the offensive line that opened the way for Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and helped the Crimson Tide roll to a national championship in 2009. He is a cerebral blocker who adjusts quickly, plays with a high motor and is able to play on either side as a guard or tackle. He started 41 consecutive games, including 26 at left guard, 10 at right tackle, three at right guard and two at left tackle. He set a school career record when he played against Texas in the 2010 BCS championship game, his 54th contest for the Crimson Tide.

    4. Mitch Petrus

    Arkansas, 6-3, 310, 3-4: Keeping track of Petrus on and off the field was a significant chore. He was originally a walk-on tight end, then switched to offensive guard, then fullback and back to guard in 2007. Oh, and his first name is really Jonathan, but he goes by the short version of Mitchell, his middle name. When he finally settled in at guard, Petrus earned second-team all-SEC honors. But just when it seemed he'd found his way, Petrus missed the 2008 season because of an academic suspension. He returned for an outstanding season in 2009. The former 225-pound walk-on tied a combine record in the 225-pound bench press with 45 repetitions.


    1. *Maurkice Pouncey

    Florida, 6-5, 304, 1-2: Winner of the 2009 Rimington Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top center, Pouncey plays with a nasty disposition and delights in putting defenders on their backs. His toughness was reflected before the Sugar Bowl when he had to receive treatment for kidney stones hours before kickoff but played. Although he left Gainesville a year early, Pouncey has shown enough to be ranked the top center prospect in this draft. Coaches rave about his field intelligence and ability to make all of the offensive line calls while making the shotgun snap for the Gators. He has exceptional quickness and gets into good position to pass protect if somebody is over him and shows excellent awareness helping other linemen. His identical twin, Mike, plays right guard for the Gators, but he chose to return for his senior season.

    2. Matt Tennant

    Boston College, 6-5, 300, 2-3: Tennant will be the latest in a long line of offensive linemen Boston College has sent to the NFL, where 11 former Eagles linemen were on rosters last season. Tennant, a standout since becoming first string as a redshirt sophomore, started the last 41 games at center and yielded an assisted sack in his last 27 appearances. He seems lanky for a center, and NFL teams will probably want him to add more mass.

    Cooney is the publisher of, the scouting service of USA TODAY
  2. 28 Joker

    28 Joker 28 Joker

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    Draft Pouncy.

    Cut Proctor.

    Replace Kosier.

    Save Romo.

    You get a starting guard and the future center.

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